New Sensation with Beth Otto, City of Lake Oswego and PSU MURP Student

Posted on March 14, 2013


Since ELGL is not a big fan of icebreakers and since we would rather not know what animal you want to be, this blog feature will serve as a means of introducing new members. While you won’t learn about their favorite animal, you will learn about their ideal Sunday morning, which dead people would they FaceTime with, and which song best describes their life.

Beth Otto

Sustainability Intern, City of Lake Oswego

Student, Master of Urban and Regional Planning

Contact: [email protected]

Beth came to the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program in 2011 out of concerns about the fossil fuel dependency of our society. She is focusing her MURP experience around energy and sustainability issues and is optimistic about the possibilities of post-carbon cities.  Her internship with the Sustainability Coordinator at the City of Lake Oswego is a great opportunity to ‘try out’ an ideal job description and undertake interesting projects, such as starting an active transportation challenge and working on green building policy. The MURP program has given her hands-on experience with planning and energy issues. Beth graduated from the University of Oregon in 2006 and then worked as an Energy Educator in Maine where she was inspired by the power and importance of environmental education.

Most interesting project you’ve worked on in your current position:

In my current position, as the sustainability intern at the City of Lake Oswego, I have had the opportunity to participate in a number of engaging projects.  One of my favorite is the 100 Mile Challenge.  This is an active transportation program that incentivizes residents to leave their car at home and use another form of transportation. The goal of the program is to encourage behavior change by helping people to discover the benefits and the convenience of active transportation.

What do you think about when you are driving to work/school?

I don’t drive (see question above)!  While biking to school I usually have a to-do list running through my head, but also use that time to relax and take in the sights and sounds of Portland.  My favorite part of the commute is crossing the Hawthorne Bridge into downtown in the early morning light.  I dedicate bus time, usually en route to my internship, to reading for class.

Most recent concert you attended:

The Water Tower, at Doug Fir.



What sites are bookmarked on your internet browser?

Job posting sites! I also have general resources such as grammar sites, MLA format information, and a color scheme/design page.  Wow, that is not too exciting…I don’t have much internet down time these days.

Proudest career/school accomplishment:

It will be when I graduate from the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program in June!

In my previous job I was an educator, I worked with middle and high school students to do energy efficiency projects around their schools.  My proudest moments there were always seeing the students present their findings to the school board.  It is very empowering for kids to realize that adults care about what they have to say.

What song best describes your life?

I don’t think I can pick one song that describes my life, but a song that I aspire to in life is: “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan.



Suggest two or three topics for the ELGL Annual Conference at the Kennedy School on October 4.

  • Climate action planning
  • Triple bottom line decision making (equity, economy, and environment)
  • Making long term investments: applying a 50 year lifecycle analysis to infrastructure financing.

If you could FaceTime or Skype with three people either dead or alive, who would they be?

  • Aldo Leopold for his early contribution to conservation science.

  • Terry Gross because she has interviewed so many interesting people, she must have some interesting insight.

  • Martin Luther King Jr. (no explanation needed!)  And of course, there are so many other inspiring people in the world…

Your work/school mentors:

My current supervisor, Susan Millhauser, is an important mentor/role model.

Favorite thing to do on a Sunday morning:

Sunday mornings are my favorite! Depending on the day two choices:

  • Sleep in, make a nice breakfast, and drink coffee in the sun.  I’m old fashioned when it comes to media, I still like to read the paper on Sunday morning.
  • Go for a run and have a bloody mary brunch. 

(Fill in the blank) Government is…..

a structure to promote the public good and assure that all people have basic needs and services met.

(Fill in the blank) ELGL is….

active group that provides networking and career development for local government professionals.

Is there any question I should have asked you?

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